by Bill Scholl
The upcoming Olympic games will turn all eyes to China, yet one can’t help but notice Darfur in the corner of the eye. If you know the name, but not the problem, here’s the situation: In the northeast section of Africa, the country of Sudan has been experiencing civil unrest and threats of revolution. These things tend to happen to corrupt governments.
The western province of Darfur is where the rebels have hidden, so the Sudanese government has hired and armed private militias, a group called the Janjaweed, to go take care of its problem in Darfur. The solution, akin to Hitler’s Final Solution, is to kill all non-Arabs. To date, the United Nations reports that over 400,000 men, women and children have been killed, thousands of women and girls have been raped, and over two million people have been forced to leave the country.
It is a profoundly sad situation, the kind that makes you look away.
But the gaze of God never turns away, and the Lord compels us to look on and help as we can. The first thing we as Catholics should do is pray. Our Lady of Fatima showed that prayer, particularly the prayer of the rosary, is a powerful weapon for world peace. The upcoming Global Living Rosary at Kauffman Stadium in May is a reminder that “a world in prayer is a world at peace.” So please make it a point to keep the people of Darfur in your prayers and make plans to go to the rally.
The globalized world, with all its challenges, also presents opportunities to stop such atrocities. China, with its fast-growing, oil-hungry economy, purchases 90 percent of the oil that Sudan sells and provides the government with the weapons used to commit genocide.
Because the Chinese have a veto vote on the U.N. Security Council, they have blocked the possibility of sending in forces to protect the people. While the United States has done a great deal to pressure Sudan, with China’s insistence, the Sudanese government would have to stop. The Olympic games are China’s party on the world stage and present a great opportunity to pressure it to do the right thing with Darfur. Go on the Internet and research Darfur. Find out how to get involved in applying pressure to effect change. While there, be sure to check out what our own Catholic Relief Services is doing to help the people of Darfur. During Lent, through Operation Rice Bowl and other collections for CRS, we as Catholics give support to helping those in such human crises throughout the world. The Olympic games are more than a symbol of world peace — they should help achieve it.
Find out more about the crisis in Darfur and CRS efforts by going to the Web site: http://sudan.crs.org/